Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kneeling first behind sage brush is the best way to catch fish

Springtime in the west goes without saying. One day it is beautiful--the trees sway in the wind while the sun gently beats down on the tender shoots of wheat in the fields. But the next minute, the huge gray purplish clouds gather in the east and soon send pounding rain and hail to the ground. Water gushes down the gutters to the tiny drains at the end of each road. In reality, spring means only one thing: Fishing season is just around the corner.

When I was younger, one of my most favorite places to go was Birch Creek, mainly because the Fish and Game stocked it with fish just like one of the Mart stores stocks its shelves--full. We used to ramble up there in one of our station wagons packed to the gills with stuff. Initially, we set up tents, but it wasn’t too long before my mother talked my dad into buying a small camp trailer. It made life more pleasant, especially during those late snows that often came around July 4th in the mountains.

One particular family reunion/camping trip to Birch Creek, I was determined to catch my own fish. I was probably five or six at the time and had caught fish with my dad. Up until that time, catching fish meant I reeled in the fish after dad hooked them. I don’t know when I finally figured it out, but I knew that wasn’t real fishing. I’m sure for the first five or six years of my life that was all right, but I wanted to become a real fisherman which meant I had to catch a fish all by myself with my own pole and me baiting my own hook.

I trotted downstream to a huge hole in the bend of the creek, not too far from camp. Becoming a fisherman didn’t necessarily mean I had to cut all ties. I still wanted to hear the laughing and the faint voices of my parents. I just felt more comfortable with knowing they were within sight.

When I arrived at the hole, I climbed down the bank and stood just away from the water. My dad had taught me to sneak up, real quiet like, so as not to spook the fish. I stood behind a small sage brush and baited my hook.

According to my dad, baiting a hook was the key to catching fish, and it had to be done just right. If you didn’t thread the worm just so on the hook, then the fish would look at it and say to the rest, “Look at this shoddy job. This kid can’t even bait a hook.” Then they would all laugh, steal the worm, and swim away, leaving the fisherman with an empty hook and shattered hopes.

I was determined to have one of them pay the price for laughing at a young boy’s feeble attempt at baiting a hook; so I was extremely careful about threading the worm. When I finished, it looked good to me. Only a few bits of flesh hung off the hook.

Just like my dad had shown me, I tossed in the line at the top of the hole and let it float in. It sat for awhile then swirled downstream. Nothing. I tried the drill again. This time, it sat for a longer period of time. Then the tugging started. My heart pounded, I hesitated once, and then I yanked too hard because the line came flying out of the water and onto the bank behind me. I scrambled to see what had happened.

My worm was gone. I figured I hadn’t threaded the worm just right because the fish that struck my line pulled it off like some worm bandit. It dawned on me this was one smart fish. It knew the drill better than I did. But I was determined to catch this fish.

I reached into my bait can, really nothing more than an old Band Aid box, and pulled out a juicy worm. I carefully threaded it on, making sure every bit of it fit on my number six hook. Then I cast it upstream and let it float into the hole.

Sure enough. That worm bandit was waiting for me. But I wasn’t quite fast enough for it. When I reeled in the line, the worm was gone again. I pulled another worm, a bigger one this time, from my box, and threaded it better than the other two.

This time I did something different. I knelt behind a sage brush and said a little prayer. I figured if God could help Peter catch a huge net full of fish, He could surely make one little fish jump on my hook.

After I finished, I sneaked back to the bank and confidently tossed in my hook. When the line got to the place where my last bite had been, I was ready. I didn’t have the same tug as before. It was bigger and stronger. It must have been the bandit’s bigger brother or sister. When he tugged, I pulled, in fact pulled so hard I yanked the fish clear out of the water, and it went sailing off into the sage brush somewhere behind me.

I was so excited. I dropped my pole and started looking for my fish. I could hear it flopping around. I knew I had to find it because fish have this uncanny sense of flopping about until they can find water. And I surely didn’t want that to happen.

Within seconds, I found it. I grabbed it between both hands, scrambled up the bank, and headed for camp, yelling all the way, holding my fish high above my head. The whole camp must have thought something was definitely wrong because when I arrived, everyone had gathered to see what the commotion was.

By the time I had run that short distance, the fish was dead. I had squeezed the life out of him. Everyone congratulated me, and my dad lined it up with the rest of the fish caught so we could measure the size. Mine was the biggest one of the bunch.
I guess this catch made me a true fisherman.

Since then, I have caught a lot of fish on my own, many of them much bigger than that first fish. Somehow, though, one’s first catch is always the biggest and the best.

Some say fishing is an art, and it is all in the way you hold your mouth. I always thought it was how long you need to kneel behind a sagebrush.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekend Trip, Family, Peace, and Comfort

Just returned from a wonderful weekend with our family. Our niece was married in the Manti Temple on Saturday morning. The drive up was beautiful—early morning, snow on mountains, gray, billowy clouds that hung low on the mountains and the valley, perhaps a foreboding of what was to come in the afternoon, farmers spreading manure on partially snow-covered fields, and the then stunning Manti Temple, just as we neared Manti, sitting stoically on the hill overlooking the valley, the sleepy village of Manti, and eternity.

I personally appreciated the quietness of the temple, where the cares of the world are null and void, unless you bring them with you. The serenity was palpably peaceful, truly diametrically opposed from the frothy din, the negative, the ugliness, and viciousness of the world.

I took this picture of a leaning shack, which is situated on the side of the road just out of Nephi on the way to Manti. Not that it is such a great picture; rather, the lopsidedness of it that was revealing…

This morning as we drove home, we were awed by the drive up Provo Canyon. The night before brought snows that covered parts of Utah during a blizzard-like snow. But the stunning freshness of the Canyon was incredible. Think of the quietness of a Sunday morning drive up the Canyon, with the Provo River on your right, and sides of the mountains covered with scrub brush, leafless quakies, pines, other types of trees whose names I know not, dusted with frost and snow, creating a sense of eeriness yet softness and beauty. We just drove and felt the peace and comfort we have needed over the past few weeks.

Finally, I stopped for a moment and took these two pictures. Pictures just do not do the canyon justice, at least not this morning and the dusting whiteness that encompassed most of the canyon.

We are home now, reveling in a delightful time with our daughters, our sweet, little Emiline (see pictures below), and our family.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Enjoying the Mountains Through Music

If you love the mountains, you would have loved the Laramie County Community College’s Wind Symphony’s “Mountains” concert on Tuesday night at the Civic Auditorium.

Clamoring onto the stage, the craftily formed “Trash Can Ferrets” carried out all sizes of trash cans and buckets, complete with lids, and performed a wonderful musical number that even had my eight-month granddaughter mesmerized. Like most very small children, she doesn’t necessarily have a very long attention span, but the consistent, rhythmic banging of sticks on cans, lids on lids, and lids on ground kept her attention.

Soon, we were traveling to Colorado and Red Rocks, where the Ensemble began the mountain tour, playing "Red Rock Fanfare."

Then, we traveled way south to listen to the music of the Quechua people of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. "Volver a la Montaña" (Return to the Mountain), gently reminded me of la musica Andina (music from the Andes) that I fell in love with when I lived in Chile.

After listening to the last remnants of the flute and piccolo, we trundled across the big ocean to listen to the eruption of "Vesuvius" once again, only this eruption was wonderfully delightful music called Vesuvius.

The dancing of the citizens of Pompeii grew quieter and quieter until we had floated back across the great deep to attend an Appalachian wedding while we vigorously tapped our feet to the "Haste to the Wedding," a beautiful wedding jig from “Appalachian Dances.”

Our bobbing of the heads carried us to Lake Tahoe and the “Golden Sierra Reflections,” moving us from the quiet serenity of the banks of the picturesque lake front to the higher, majestic elevations where perhaps Joe, Hoss, Adam, and Ben Cartwright once rode stoic in their saddles across that gorgeous scenic Nevada front.

From stunning lake to Mount Rushmore loomed even larger in the horizon with the Wind Ensemble playing "Rushmore," with the brass and baritones blaring first, long and loud, calling all to come forward and bask in the glorious majesty of the presidential heads. Soon, “America the Beautiful” sneaked into the fray and buoyed us up and filled us with unwavering patriotism.

Soon, though, the mountainous music seeped into the darkness, quietly at first and then just a think wisp of a memory remained, leaving all of us in attendance with the feeling that night was exquisite.

We especially appreciate the importance of community members participating with the students in bringing to our community such rapacious music from the mountains.

Thank you, Laramie County Community College Wind Symphony and Gary Hall, and the delight you give to Cheyenne.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Life can be such a jab

Life can be such jab—
in my gut,
to my head,
to my heart;
but yet when I think
of what I can learn,
should learn,
think of the positives,
those little nuggets,
I quickly—yet sometimes
reluctantly—begin to change
my view of things,
change what I want
to be or where I am
going; or what I need
to do.
Within time, sometimes,
more time than I wish
to give up,
I sense a change
in what I feel,
what I think,
what I actually do.
Yes, I still have doubts,
still wonder if I am treading
on soft ground,
or hard ground,
or ground that will swallow
me up within seconds.
But I tread on, knowing
that rocks and downed trees,
mucky slime
will try to block my continuance,
but I tread on,
like a good trooper,
finally realizing that I control
change, I control my life,
and sometimes it doesn’t go
the way I thought it would,
but it goes
and I go with it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chile with love

Thank goodness for Facebook! That has been the only way I have been able to communicate with all of my friends in Chile after the great and terrible earthquake that hit southern Chile and caused so much damage.

When I first heard about the earthquake, I knew there wouldn't be any telephone service for some time. I jumped on Facebook and sent a message to every single person I knew in Chile, letting them know that our family was concern about their family.

My first contact was with Nico who is the son of Luisa, Mom's daughter. Their family lives in Llanquihue, a community just south of Puerto Montt. He told me all was well in Puerto Montt. Then, I was able to contact Blanca who lives outside of Santiago. She asked me for the phone numbers, which I gave her. She tried to call them but to no avail. She was very apologetic, but there was nothing to be done with the country in such chaos. She tried again the next day. Thank you, Blanca. Muchas gracias, Blanca, por ser mi amiga chilena. Sera bendecida!

Finally, I heard from Gloria from Santiago and then Carmen from Talca. Apparently, Carmen and others were sharing a computer so they could send messages to all of their loved ones around the country. Thankfully, Carmen made sure to tell me her family was fine. I asked her about a couple of other families. They were fine.

Then, I heard from Walky, also from Talca. She told me all of the woes in Talca, which were tremendous--lots of damage, especially to the old part of town. Her parents at been at their home in Pullehue, a city which was almost completely destroyed by the tsunami. Fortunately, their house was high on a hill overlooking Pullehue. They have since returned to their house.

I also heard from my good friend and former missionary companion Boris in La Union. Fortunately, the quake didn't hit that far south. But they were fine nonetheless.

Finally, I heard from Priscila from Talca. Her family was fine. Once the earthquake had subsided, her brother Manuel ran to his mother's place and found her alive and well. Oh, the love the Chileans have for their families! All of us would take heed.

So now, I have heard from all of the families that I hold near and dear to me in Chile. Yes, they have been through much, and aftershocks are common although Carmen wrote today that everything last night was quiet. As you all know, aftershocks are just as scary as the real deal, especially knowing that reshifting and shifting and reshifting may cause even more damage and create even more chaos.

My Chilean friends, have faith and courage. You have been through more than you should. But I also know that Heavenly Father has blessed you and will continue to bless you because He loves His Chilean children.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New news from Chile

Last evening, I had a few Facebook posts from my friends in Chile. Santiago looks good. Puerto Montt looks good. La Union looks good. But Talca is not good. I heard from two families. One still has a home and utilities. The other one didn't come out as well. They lost their home and have had to sleep out in the street. They have been sharing the use of one computer to let everyone know how they are doing. But they are safe with no injuries. I still haven't heard from two of the families. I continue to pray for them.